Even though matcha’s history began in the 8th century in China, it gained wide popularity at the beginning of the 21st century. Matcha is a superfood loved by supporters of a healthy lifestyle all over the world. Matcha is Japanese green tea ground into a powder. This tea is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. The peculiarities of cultivation and preparation allow this drink to retain many useful substances.
But why is matcha so popular and expensive? Is it really worth the hype? Read our ultimate guide and find out!
Why is Matcha tea so popular? Matcha tea is so popular due to its nutritional value. Matcha promotes weight loss, normalizes blood pressure and cholesterol level, improves brain activity, prevents cancer, and improves mood and concentration. Matcha is a real superfood and has become popular due to its taste and health benefits.
Even though matcha’s history began in the 8th century in China, it became extremely popular in the 2000s in Japan due to its health properties. Now matcha is a superfood, and its global market size is valued at USD 3.5 billion and is expected to keep growing every year.
Wondering what the most expensive tea tastes like? Head over to Da Hong Pao Tea Ultimate Guide: Price, Taste, Nutrition, History
Why Is Matcha So Popular? The Real Truth
What is so special about Matcha? Matcha is a great source of antioxidants, and polyphenols and contains 100 times more epigallocatechin (EGC) than any other tea. Matcha is considered a superfood and can be added to desserts and various meals. Matcha also helps with weight loss, normalizes hormone production, and improves mood.
Today, matcha tea is considered a traditional Japanese drink. However, this green tea powder appeared not in the land of the rising sun but in China. As early as the 5th century, the Chinese roasted tea leaves and then ground them. The powder was pressed into briquettes, which were then boiled with the addition of mint or salt. The preparation and consumption of powdered tea have become a Zen Buddhist ritual.
Zen Buddhism itself, with its powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk Eisai. In China, powdered tea was gradually forgotten. Still, in Japan, it retained its position thanks to Zen monks and then began to spread widely among other sectors of society during the period from the 14th to the 16th century. During this time, the owners of tea plantations in Uji perfected the technique of producing the highest grade tea — matcha.
For matcha to retain its naturally sweet and vegetal flavor and nutty, creamy aroma, it is important to use a high-quality Japanese bamboo whisk (chasen). Check out Useful Tips on How to Pick a Good Matcha Whisk for more info. To keep your matcha whisk in good condition, head over to Ultimate Guide on How to Care for a Matcha Whisk (Chasen)
In Japan, matcha tea became especially popular much later, only in the 13th century, but it was the Japanese who perfected the technique of making matcha. Having mastered tea preparation, the Japanese went even further and made matcha a familiar component of their national sweets. Matcha powder is added to Manju and Kakigori desserts, sweets and pastries, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
How popular is matcha? As of 2021, the global matcha market size is valued at USD 3.5 billion and is expected to keep expanding its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% from 2021 to 2025. One in five people drinks matcha every day, making it one of the most popular drinks in the world.
Today, health enthusiasts use matcha to make muesli, smoothies, and other healthy dishes. Green tea powder is considered a real superfood and helps us achieve balanced nutrition. Another trend that has emerged recently is the use of matcha tea in the cosmetics industry. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, this ingredient has come to be included in many skincare products. Matcha is believed to prevent aging, protect against the aggressive effects of ultraviolet radiation and revitalize the skin.
Where is matcha most popular? Which countries drink Matcha? Matcha is most popular in Japan, China, the USA, Canada, and Australia. Matcha has recently spread to Europe (France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom). Now matcha’s market size is valued at USD 3.5 billion, and its popularity only keeps growing.
Matcha has become extremely popular in the USA in the last 5 years and can be found in top-tier restaurants and coffee shops, including Starbucks. Matcha in the USA is advertised on Instagram, YouTube, and Tik Tok and is even promoted during New York Fashion Week.
Is matcha worth the hype? Matcha, with its health benefits, is worth the hype as it contains antioxidants and L-Theanine, which give an energy boost, protect from UV exposure, prevent aging, and reduce cholesterol levels. Matcha lasts for a long time and doesn’t cause any side effects (increased heart rate, high blood pressure).
How much does matcha cost? As of 2022, 100g of ceremonial grade matcha cost $80-$120, while 100g of culinary grade matcha cost $30-$60 (100 g of matcha powder will be enough for 90-100 cups). 100 g of matcha can be as cheap as $20, but the quality will be average. A cup of matcha in coffee shops in the USA costs $4-$10.
Matcha is so expensive as its production process is laborious and time-consuming. Matcha leaves are harvested by hand, dried in special conditions, and ground into powder. For leaves to retain green color and sweet flavor, farmers use a unique technology to prevent oxidation.
Are you wondering why your matcha is not frothing? Check out 7 Reasons Why Your Matcha Does Not Foam!
Matcha is harvested only once a year. Two weeks before harvest, the leaves are covered to protect them from sunlight. Thus, the tea retains its freshness, and the leaves have a rich dark green color. At the same time, the leaves are saturated with amino acids, and the tea acquires a sweet taste. The leaves are harvested by hand, dried in a special room without rolling, and then ground into a light powder of bright green color.
After harvesting, the tea leaves are processed in two ways. In the first case, they are rolled and dried to form Gyokuro tea. In the second case, the leaves are dried straight and ground to form Tencha tea. The taste of matcha tea depends on the presence of amino acids in it. The higher grades harvested first have a deeper rich aroma and sweet taste than the lower grades harvested later.
That said, matcha is expensive due to a laborious process of production. To retain bright green color and sweet, vegetal flavor, it must be protected from the sun and stored in special conditions. The high popularity of matcha also increases its price as demand is far bigger than supply. Matcha is promoted all over the Internet by influencers and is advertised in movies. Matcha has become a big trend among those who follow a healthy lifestyle. But what does matcha taste like? Does it really taste so good?
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Matcha has a rich, vegetal flavor with hints of freshness and sweetness. Matcha has a herbaceous aftertaste and light viscosity. Matcha taste depends on the amino acids. The higher grades harvested first have a deeper rich aroma and sweeter taste than the lower grades harvested later.
Matcha is distinguished by its unusual appearance and outstanding organoleptic properties. In its original form, it is a fine powder. Matcha should have a thick and rich consistency. Matcha can be drunk as is without adding sugar or milk. The natural sweetness of the drink is enough.
The manufacturing technology of matcha gives it a unique taste. It is an amazing combination of richness, depth, and tempting sweetness. Should matcha taste a little bitter? On this issue, the opinions of the tasters differ. Some say that there is a subtle bitterness in the taste.
Others argue that even a subtle bitterness or astringency indicates a low quality of the purchased product. It is difficult to understand and appreciate the taste of matcha when you try it for the first time. The high content of amino acids and chlorophyll gives it an amazing long-lasting sweet aftertaste.
The taste of matcha is determined by a number of factors. Among them are the temperature of the green tea served, the peculiarities of the production technology, and the correct brewing of matcha.
A high-quality matcha powder has a bright green powder. Depending on the specific variety, the shade varies. However, yellowish or brownish tones are not typical for this tea. If you see a powder in these colors, do not buy it, as the quality is poor.
The smell of matcha also deserves special mention. You will need a well-developed sense of smell to feel and even more to identify light, almost weightless notes. Matcha tea has a smell of freshness with hints of herbal, vegetable, and sweetish notes.
High-quality matcha tastes good. It has a smooth, sweet, vegetal flavor with notes of nuttiness and light viscosity. Matcha does not taste bitter or sour and has a distinctive smooth balance of flavor and aroma. Amino acids and chlorophyll give matcha an amazing long-lasting sweet aftertaste.
Matcha is healthy due to its high content of epigallocatechin with antioxidant properties and L-theanine that improves sleep, gives an energy boost, and reduces muscle pain. Matcha speeds up metabolism and helps the body burn fat 4 faster. Matcha protects the skin from UV exposure and prevents aging.
Matcha surpasses any quality tea in its beneficial properties. For comparison, the concentration of beneficial and nutritious properties in 1 cup of powdered tea is equivalent to 8-10 cups of green tea. Matcha contains strong antioxidants, flavonoids, amino acids, and phytonutrients. But what does it mean?
Matcha neutralizes the effects of carcinogens, slows down the aging process, and rejuvenates cells. Green tea powder boosts metabolism and boosts fat burning by acting as a detox agent. Due to the high content of catechins, it helps burn fat more efficiently and normalizes blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Matcha also serves as a good prevention against cancer, improves brain activity, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, gives a feeling of fullness, so it can replace breakfast or afternoon tea, and contains the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes the production of serotonin and dopamine that improve mood and concentration.
The Japanese have long been adding matcha to all dietary supplements: matcha reduces stress and increases concentration and clarity of consciousness. Green powder is increasingly being brewed instead of coffee: it invigorates just as well, and the caffeine from it is absorbed more slowly thanks to L-theanine, which is good for the body.
Matcha is a true universe of antioxidants. Catechin is the most powerful of them and makes up 60%. This antioxidant helps prevent heart disease, lowers cholesterol, slows down the aging process, and protects against many types of cancer, thanks to the polyphenol EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). Catechin is also responsible for the astringency of green tea.
Matcha contains five times more chlorophyll than regular green tea. Chlorophyll has a general strengthening and antitumor effect, has a wound-healing property, promotes the regeneration of body tissues, improves intestinal function, and helps to eliminate toxins from the body.
The amino acid L-theanine promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain, which induces relaxation without drowsiness, and produces dopamine and serotonin, which improve mood and memory. Matcha is both a stimulant and a relaxant, so you can stay alert and focused on your work and calm down while meditating. L-theanine adds sweetness to matcha.
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